Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga

Posted on April 15th, 2020

The Blyde River Canyon is the heart and treasure of Mpumalanga, South Africa. A vast canyon painted with a silvery blue snaking river and surrounded by grand and towering mountains. The area is about a 30 minute drive from Graskop and has a few beautiful spots to visit.

The close proximity and collection of places to explore makes it a wonderful day trip from Graskop. So pack a picnic lunch, some walking shoes, a costume and towel, a drink for sundowners and prepare for your favourite day in this beautiful region (well it was my favourite day at least).

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

I’m going to say straight up that I didn’t love this place and found it to be a bit of a tourist trap. But for the sake of consistency and sharing the information I have I’m still going to write about it and leave the decision to visit or not up to you. This was by far the most expensive attraction along the Panorama Route costing R63 per person. For some or other reason it also appeared to be marketed as the IT place for every tourist bus to visit. All the other spots we had visited (read all about God’s Window, Mac Mac Pools, Berlin Falls, Lisbon Falls and Pinnacle Rock here in my Panorama Route blog post) were relatively quiet meaning we had lots of space to ourselves to quietly enjoy the beauty. Here there were bus loads of foreigners which definitely changed the atmosphere of the place.
The actual potholes were pretty cool. Perfect holes eroded into shape by the running of the river. There were also some waterfalls around but we couldn’t access them because they were fenced off. Altogether the whole experience felt very restricted and crowded. That is my personal opinion, Chels on the other hand loved it and Luke didn’t find it too bad. So take it as you will and decide for yourself- my personal choice if I did it over would be to give it a miss completely.

Kidishi Hiking Trail at the Forever Resort

This was such a highlight in our day exploring the Blyde River Canyon! I had seen a few Instagram posts featuring a rounded waterfall with a brilliant green pool below. I struggled to navigate the hashtags and eventually found a location: Blyde River Canyon,  A Forever Resort. I couldn’t seem to find any blog posts on it but did come across the Kidishi waterfall trail.  So my hope is that this blog post can give you all the missing information on how to do the Kidishi Waterfall hiking trail to the beautiful Tufa Waterfall.

Your destination is Blyde River Canyon, A Forever Resort. You can park at the security gate and go into reception to purchase your hiking day passes. This will cost R50 per person for the day. They’ll give you a map and show you where the start of the Kidishi trail is. You will drive in and park opposite the restaurant, then walk back a little bit to chalet C64. Here you’ll find the start of the Kidishi Hiking trail. This is a very short 2km walk (we did 1km to the waterfall, 1km back, alternatively follow the 2km circular route which passes the waterfall and continues on in a circle back to the parking lot) and is very gentle and easy. I would still recommend proper takkies or walking shoes but it really isn’t strenuous at all, just a gentle walk through the forest.

You’ll pass babbling brooks, mossy waterfalls and green canopies all to the deafening sound of cicadas in the trees. After 1km of walking you’ll arrive at the waterfall. This is a special kind of waterfall called a Tufa waterfall which is formed when water running over dolomite rock absorbs calcium, resulting in interesting rock formations. These waterfalls are very unique in appearance and incredibly rare making this experience a wonderful treat. It was so beautiful with an emerald green pool lined with ferns, mosses and trees. The waterfall itself looked like a view through a fish eye lens with calcified rocky bulges and a beautiful shower of water.

We swam in the clear and cool green waters and watched as the droplets fell like tears from the weeping face created by the rock formations. The spot was incredibly peaceful so we spent some time here enjoying our picnic and relaxing on the rocks while reading our books before walking back to the car.

Upper Viewpoint at the Forever Resort

We were about to drive off to the Blyde River Canyon and Three Rondavels viewpoint before we had a quick look at the resort map and saw they had a few viewpoints of their own. The geography of the place seemed to point towards where the actual Blyde River Canyon so we thought it was worth a look. And oh yes were we right! We drove up to the Forever Resort’s Upper Viewpoint and were treated to an amazing front-on view of the Three Rondavels. Everything was touched with brilliant green along with bits of reddy brown soil in between.  The sun shone beautifully on the landscape bringing forth beautiful colours. This spot is definitely best for late afternoon.

Blyde River Canyon and Three Rondavels Viewpoint

The Three Rondavels Viewpoint is definitely the best view point of the Blyde River Canyon. The entrance fee is R30 per person. Make sure to come at golden hour (the hour just before sunset) for the best lighting. We were here in late November and arrived at 4:20pm. This was the perfect time for the most beautiful colouring of the mountains. Later in the day there are also fewer tourists making it a more personal experience.

Every trip has an IT destination. The reason you were inspired to plan the trip in the first place. For me this spot was our IT destination and the reason we decided to drive across the whole country. I was so looking forward to seeing this and was so relieved when it lived up to and surpassed every expectation I had!

We parked the car and walked to the edge of the walkway. What lay before us was the most magnificent sight. A vast canyon with a silver grey river straddling a great mountain propped in the middle of the scene. To our right we saw the Three Rondavels peaking before diving down into the valley. We sat in awe of the sheer magnitude and beauty of what lay before us. The light was soft turning the greenery of the mountains to a gentle shade of blue. We took some beautiful photos and breathed in the wonder of Creation before us.

Hopefully this blog post can help guide you in planning your trip to the Blyde River Canyon. For our trip we based ourselves in Graskop, staying the Wild Forest Inn, and used the opportunity to explore the Panorama Route and the Kruger National Park. Be sure to read those blog posts as well in the planning of your itinerary to Mpumlanga, South Africa.

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